Local McDonald's joins trend of businesses open 24 hours

Thursday, April 10, 2003

Marshallites now can jump in their car and get a Egg McMuffin at 4 a.m. or a Quarter Pounder after watching Jay Leno.

McDonald's of Marshall began featuring a drive-thru window open 24 hours a day as of March 24 and also opens its doors at 5 a.m., an hour earlier than it used to. It joins Wal-Mart and Texaco 65 as Marshall businesses that are open all hours of the day - and night.

"We decided to go 24 hours because we decided there was a need in Marshall," said McDonald's owner Mike Gremaud. He said a number of McDonald's stores throughout Missouri are going to 24-hour drive-thrus through the summer to test the market, though Gremaud said he has no plans to change his two other stores in Concordia and Knob Noster to be open 24 hours.

"We think there is a niche in Marshall," he said. "We're looking to keep it ongoing, if the sales are there."

Garry Goldammer, manager of Wal-Mart in Marshall, which has been open 24 hours a day for several months, said, "It takes several months to get a customer acclimated to the new hours." He said people used to shop during the day and sleep at night, but not anymore.

"Shopping habits have changed drastically," Goldammer said. "We're busiest at 4 to 10 p.m. The old 9 to 5 is history."

He said McDonald's decision to go to a 24-hour operation is "the right thing to do." "It will complement our business and we will complement his," Goldammer said.

Gremaud said it was his decision to change the store's hours to be open all day.

"In today's market, you do what you have to do to get more sales," he said. "So far we're real happy with the response we've gotten. Some nights we get more customers than others."

Goldammer said Wal-Mart's decision to be open all night has attracted people traveling on Highway 65 who would otherwise drive on by.

"Prior to changing our hours, we were behind the district average for increase of sales," he said. "After opening 24 hours, we are running one of the highest percent of increase in sales."

Goldammer said Wal-Mart also had a test period of a few months for the new hours, and the response exceeded his expectations.

"I decided we should stay open and probably never go back from 24 hours," he said.

Goldammer added the store's projected transition to a Wal-Mart Supercenter in the next year will be smoother because employees are already used to working with the around-the-clock schedule.

Goldammer said Wal-Mart's toughest obstacle in transitioning to staying open 24 hours was cleaning the floors. He said certain areas have to be blocked off for part of the night while the floors are cleaned.

McDonald's, which only has its drive-thru open all night, faces a different challenge.

"Right now we don't know where to break for breakfast," Gremaud said. The store now offers breakfast items beginning at 4 a.m., but Gremaud said he may push that back to 3:30 a.m. He said employees are trying to serve breakfast and dinner from 3:30 to 4 a.m., but there isn't always enough room on the grill. Gremaud also said he needs to figure out the peak times customers will come so he can better staff the store.

"Every night's a little bit different," he said. "I didn't realize there were so many night owls out."

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